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Sweden.The Army Reform Bill.

[333 agreed upon. Nor could the Government lay measures dealing with the latter question before the House until the investigations concerning it, which the Riksdag itself had asked for, were concluded. At the voting the same day in the First Chamber the bill in the form approved by the majority of the special committee was passed by 97 votes against 41, the minority voting for the bill as originally framed by the Government, which only in details differed from that of the Committee.

In the Second Chamber the War Minister strongly recommended an aggregate service time of a year, whilst other speakers were in favour of only eight months. M. von Friesen, the well-known champion of an extension of the suffrage, stated that the political suffrage ought to be extended simultaneously with the passing of the Army Reform Bill.

If he had any guarantees that the present Riksdag would extend the suffrage, he was prepared to support the Army Bill, but under existing circumstances he was bound to vote for its being left in abeyance; he could neither vote for the twelve months' nor the eight months' service. The following day the Minister of Finance defended the financial basis of the bill, whilst M. Branting, the Social Democrat, spoke strongly against it, calling its adoption a national calamity. Sweden ought to follow the example of Switzerland and not of Prussia. He also maintained that the financial burden of the measure would fall upon the indirect taxation. It was not right to settle the question of Army reform without the electors having been consulted. He wanted the matter to be allowed to stand over. In the continued discussions M. Mansson, a prominent member of the Landtmanna party, warmly recommended the acceptance of the Army reform project. The Prime Minister stated that one of the Government's reasons for now proceeding with this measure was the increase in the national wealth. If necessary the Government could accept M. Hjelmern's proposal for an eight months' service in order to use it as a basis for a possible compromise between the First and the Second Chamber. If. however, such a compromise should be proposed the Government was bound to reserve for itself the right of a thorough investigation before deciding whether it could be accepted as a satisfactory solution of the Army reform question. M. Staaff said he and his friends wanted the matter to stand over, as they did not believe in these half promises about extended suffrage. Finally the Second Chamber by 119 votes against 108, accepted M. Hjelmern's proposal for a total service time of eight months.

Eventually the Army Reform Committee, which consisted of twenty-four members, twelve from each House, proposed a compromise, according to which the Infantry, the Fortification Artillery and Engineers, and the Train should have a training of altogether 240 days (150 days recruit school and 30 days repetition courses in the second, third and fourth years); whilst the Cavalry, the Field Artillery and the Field Engineers should

have a service of 365 days (281 recruit school and 42 days repetition courses in the second and third years), and the Navy 300 days. During the transition period a service of 172 days was fixed for all the men, and the pay was fixed at 20 ore per day for the recruit school, and 50 ore per day for subsequent service. On May 22 the chief military authorities met before the King, and the proposal of the committee was accepted, it being passed the following day by the Second Chamber by 121 votes against 98. The discussion and the many private negotiations which had preceded this decision were of considerable interest, and showed how individual were the opinions held by numerous Members, and how independent of party discipline and considerations the voting on the whole had been. No small amount of praise was due to the happy blending of tact and resolution with which the Government, more especially the Prime Minister and the War Minister, handled this difficult question, and brought it to an issue acceptable, as far as it went, to both Houses and the Crown. Some dissatisfaction, however, was caused among the Conservatives by things said by the Premier and other Ministers on one or two subsequent occasions in the House and elsewhere, M. von Otter, in particular, being blamed for not having been sufficiently discreet in his observations upon the efficiency of the Army reform, and also upon the suffrage question. There was some little delay in obtaining the King's sanction to the Army Reform Bill as passed by the Riksdag: his Majesty, however, did give it at the recommendation of all the Councillors of State, but the official record of the Council in question contains the additional statement by the King, that he distinctly declares that he does not hold that the problem of Army reform has thereby been completely solved.

Although the Army Reform Bill took the lion's share of public attention, other measures of importance were under the consideration of the legislative body, and satisfactorily disposed of. Some of these had been exhaustively investigated and reported upon by special committees. Amongst these may be mentioned the National Bank Reform, to which the private banks offered a much less strenuous opposition than had in many quarters been expected. In their interest the terms under which the transition was to take place were made somewhat easier, and the adoption of this important reform in the financial arrangements of the country was in full progress by the end of the year. In regard to the merchant shipping question the results obtained were somewhat out of proportion to the efforts made both by the Government and by private members, a law relating to mortgages on vessels being all the practical outcome. A special committee on the subject was, however, appointed, and there could be no doubt that legislative activity in support of the interests of shipping would be prosecuted in the future. Amongst other measures passed were


1901.) Sweden.-Censure on the Naval Minister. a bill against usury, a Legal Procedure Bill, and a bill relating to the increased utilisation of peat. Of greater importance than these, however, was the passing by the Legislature of the Government Accidents Insurance Bill. This question had been under the consideration of previous Riksdags, and the sentiment demonstrated by its adoption gave promise of good future legislative work in the same direction.

An episode of a somewhat unusual nature, and one which was much commented upon, was the censure by the House of the Naval Minister, M. Dyrssen. The occasion was a punishment inflicted by that Minister upon Rear-Admiral Högg for indiscretion. The matter was brought before the Riksdag, and the Constitutional Committee wound up its report upon it by declaring that Rear-Admiral Högg could not, in their opinion, be considered guilty of the offence for which he had been blamed, nor could he be said to have neglected his duty, and he ought, therefore, not to have been punished. The fact that the admiral had been punished "for an action which did not call for any punishment” necessitated, in the view of the committee, a declaration that the Naval Minister “had not in this case shown that ability which his office requires." In the House the Naval Minister spoke against the report, but both Chambers recorded their approval of it, after a shorter or longer discussion. The Naval Minister in consequence resigned, and M. Palander, of Vega fame, was appointed his successor. Subsequently M. Hedin, in the House, asked if the Premier would give his consideration to the question whether the rules of the Constitution were duly observed in all the Government's actions, and, should he think it expedient, take adequate measures. von Otter replied that he had not seen any signs of the alleged irresponsible administration, and he did not think it necessary to take any steps in this connection. If the House, however, found it advisable he would introduce corrective measures. M. von Otter the same day, in reply to a question from M. Branting, stated that he hoped in the next session to be able to lay a bill dealing with the extension of the political suffrage before the House.

The session closed at the end of May. The same day the Liberal party held a meeting, at which M. von Friesen spoke. He pointed out that within their ranks, as little as within any other party, had there been unanimity about the question of Army reform. But as this question had been disposed of, their party, he urged, could with all the more fervour go in for the prosecution of those great reforms which were bound to take the first place within the immediate future, especially those connected with the suffrage and with taxation.

In addition to that in the Naval Ministry two more changes took place during the year, MM. Wikblad and Annerstadt being replaced by M. Hammerskiöld, as Minister of Justice, and M. Westring, as Consulting Councillor of State. Neither of these


appointments, however, apparently affected the political character of the Ministry, although they may be said to have further enhanced its somewhat pronounced bureaucratic quality, a circumstance which did not altogether find favour with the Conservative party.

The relations between Sweden and Norway were of a more amicable nature than had for years been the case, and do not call for any special comment as far as Sweden is concerned.


For Norway the year 1901 was one of comparative quiet.. At times there were rumours of more or less sharp political differences, but, on the whole, the year afforded evidence of considerable subsidence in the excited party feelings of previous years. The Radical majority found that, in spite of their unassailable political security, it was a difficult task for them to carry into effect some of the important reforms which figured most conspicuously in their electioneering programme. The Steen Government found it beyond their power to solve or even attempt a satisfactory solution of the vexed question of the cessation of the joint diplomatic and consular representation of Norway and Sweden. The severance of the two sister countries in this matter was not yet brought about, long and loudly as the Radicals had cried for it, and the prospects of its speedy consummation were by no means encouraging to those who desired it. It was, therefore, not unnatural that a certain amount of dissatisfaction sprang up within the Left party with the Premier, and more than once rumours of his impending resignation were current. But still M. Steen remained, at the end of the year, at the head of the Government, and with him were still some of his staunch friends, such men as MM. Blehr, Löoland and Qvvam.

The Government experienced some difficulty in making both ends meet. Their expenditure had been heavy on railways and in various other departments, and also they had taken in hand important extensions and reforms of the defensive services. Times have not been good in Norway, and although a large new loan was resorted to the taxes have of necessity been increased. The Conservatives have for several years been somewhat severe in their criticisms of the financial policy of the Steen Government, and it would appear that there are some grounds for this.

The Storthing, which resumed its labours after the Christmas recess, had a great many measures under its consideration, both Government and private bills; but although the session proved an exceedingly long one, lasting until June 3, the work done was not excessive, a number of measures being allowed to stand over till the next session. The predominating sentiment was distinctly Radical, and the Extreme Left wing had the


Norway.--Municipal Suffrage Extension. [337 upper hand, thanks more especially to some of the new and younger Members.

This was illustrated more through the tendency of the legislative work than by marked political utterances, which have not been much in vogue. As examples of the manner in which the Radicals thought fit to override opinions opposed to, but, probably, much sounder than, their own, may be mentioned their treatment of the defensive measures, and, still more, the pressing forward of the Extension of Municipal Suffrage Bill. The latter was introduced by ten Members, with M. Castberg as spokesman, and had for its object the introduction of universal municipal suffrage for all men. Its opponents considered that the bringing forward of this measure was all the more ill-judged and inopportune, seeing that various municipal reforms were under consideration ; the Left party had not pledged themselves in this direction, and no doubt many of the older Members had their misgivings; but when the Government saw that in spite of this the bill had plenty of support from the extreme wing they deemed it advisable to accept it. In order to somewhat counteract the influence of this change a bill providing for qualified female suffrage was introduced and carried by a majority comprising most of the Conservatives and some of the Left. The voting took place in the Odelsthing on May 10, the universal municipal suffrage for men being passed by 48 votes against 36, and the bill giving the municipal franchise to women who pay taxes on an annual income of not less than 300 kr. in the country and 400 kr. in the towns, or who have joint estate with husbands similarly taxed, by 68 votes against 17.

The new defensive measures caused a considerable amount of excitement even before their introduction, and in the earlier part of April there were even rumours of a Ministerial crisis. The King was understood to be against the matter being rushed, as M. Stang, the new and energetic War Minister, and eventually the rest of the Government and their followers, desired. The Conservatives were not exactly against the measure, but they asked for a proper investigation. In the matter of defensive measures, both military and naval, the situation has been strangely reversed, compared with what was the case only a few years previously, a change mostly caused by the agitated feeling against Sweden, which the Radicals for years have done their best to arouse throughout the nation. The defensive scheme in question comprised frontier fortifications on the eastern line of access, and the King's objection, as privately expressed, was mainly that the measure had not been laid before the military authorities in the regular manner.

The bill was ultimately passed on the last day of the session, in accordance with the demands of the Government and the committee, comprising a vote for the Glommen line and a smaller naval grant. It was opposed by a minority on account of not having been sufficiently sifted, but it was carried by 69 votes against 37, figures which


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